Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro will steal the AirPods Pro’s best feature

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Yet another Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro leak has revealed the true wireless earbuds will feature a head-tracking 3D audio feature similar to the Spatial Audio mode of the AirPods Pro.

Active noise cancelling and a new “Voice Detect” feature also appear in an APK teardown by Github user ThePBone, which includes screenshots of the accompanying mobile app. However, it’s not all good news: the leak also suggests the 3D audio feature will only be available when the Galaxy Buds Pro are paired with a Samsung device, like the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S21.

Samsung’s 3D audio appears to work identically to Apple’s Spatial Audio. It reportedly uses sensors to track the user’s head movements while the earbuds play sound from what would seemingly be consistent positions, creating a 3D surround sound effect.

Unfortunately, according to the teardown, 3D audio also mirrors Spatial Audio in that it only works with a phone from the same manufacturer. Owners of Google, Motorola, Huawei, Oppo or LG phones – to name just a few – will be out of luck.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro app screenshots

(Image credit: GitHub)

At least the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro don’t appear to need a Galaxy smartphone for the other key features uncovered in the leak. There’s active noise cancelling, which was already part of the Galaxy Buds Live, but the Galaxy Buds Pro have a new shape that could provide a more effective seal against outside noise.

Then there’s Voice Detect, which apparently allows the earbuds to sense when you’re speaking and automatically engage the ambient sound mode so you can quickly have a conversation without needing to activate an ambient mode manually. The leaked screenshots show this feature can be toggled on and off, as can noise cancelling and ambient sound should you wish to take direct control.

This looks like a feasible find as far as leaks go, complete with corroborations of smaller details: the charging case battery size, for instance, is given as 472 mAh, dead-on identical to the spec in previous Samsung Galaxy Buds leaks. Still, we’ll be waiting for official confirmation on these AirPods-baiting features when the buds are formally announced, which could be at a Samsung Unpacked event on January 14.

If so, Apple would have a fair few months to respond. The Apple AirPods Pro 2 have been rumored but most whispers suggest they won’t break cover until late 2021 at the earliest.

In the meantime, we’ll watch out for the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. With a better fit and added 3D audio smarts, even if they are limited to certain smartphones, they could end up among the best wireless earbuds around.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.